I was really saddened to read an article last week about how children, apparently as young as seven, are growing up to believe that looks are, quite simply, the most important thing they should worry about.
This has so many negative connotations, it's hard to express them all. But what on earth has led these poor kids and their older peers to arrive at this worrying conclusion?
Even more concerning is that the media will have them believe they're right. Today's society pins everything on looks. We're bombarded with unrealistic imagery of how women, in particular, should look. People are employed on the strength of their looks, and better looking people get more attention, these are just facts.
What can parents do to combat this?
Clearly we have to educate our children by instilling in them, enough times, the importance of what's inside. This isn't easy when they see and hear from talentless 'celebrities':
- How achingly crucial it is for one to wear a face full of make-up before one dares set foot out the door
- How deadly important it is to be 'beach body ready'
- Or how, if you don't have the 'right' look, you'll never have the good fortune to marry an equally vacuous numpty with whom to share your bizarre fantasy lifestyle, where quality plays second fiddle to quantity.
After all, it's all about what you can own, right? Or, this is at least the impression many 'celebrities' give out, and perhaps what our children take away from stories about them.
It's easy for me to deride these so-called 'celebrities', I absolutely despise what they stand for, but I'm an adult; my days of being swayed by this sort of thing are safely behind me. It's our children I worry about, however, who are actually listening and paying heed to these people and believing they are right; that they must follow them on their strange, unhappy crusade to gain fame for behaving like an idiot and to look the same as everyone else.
But at the same time, I feel quite sorry for them. Initially, it's not their fault. They've simply been ensnared by the same trap, they've taken the bait laid enticingly by the media. After all, if they stopped churning out cheap reality TV they could surely stem the flow of these robotic creatures that go on to grace myriads of trashy magazines, appear on Loose Women and write enlightening columns full of tips on how to look just like them.
As long as the media continue to condone this behaviour at every turn, and the public continue to buy into it, we are stuck with this sorry situation.
Once again, it all boils down to good parenting, something all of us feel passionate about.
Regularly extolling the virtues of kindness, loyalty, trustworthiness and honesty to our kids, whilst maintaining a healthy balance on the issue of personal appearance. Of course, it's important to be well presented and make the best of what life gave you, but it's simply not the be all and end all.
Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor